Otter Valley



I was born and brought up in Solihull in the West Midlands.  The family moved from Herefordshire to Devon in 1977.  Married to Rotarian Ken we have three sons between us and four grandchildren. I was one of the founder members of Otter Valley Inner Wheel, having served as President twice before.   I spent most of my working life as a Reference Librarian.  Having spent many years as a reluctant sailor, on retirement we sold our boat and decided to take up golf, a sport fellow President Anne and I enjoy playing together.  We are hoping that our year as Presidents will be full of fun and friendship after last year’s Covid limitations.


 I have lived most of my life in the Southwest of England and grew up in Sidmouth my Father’s hometown. I attended the Grammar School in Ottery St Mary and then followed a career in banking in Sidmouth. I married a local man, and we made our home in Ottery. We have two daughters, who both made their careers in education, and four grandchildren, all now in their teens. 

After my family were settled, I went back to work part time as a GP receptionist, a job I really enjoyed! Eventually I worked full time as Practice Manager in the same, busy surgery in Ottery, until my retirement in 2012.

I decided to take up golf, which I continue to play, as well as enjoying walking, and playing a bit of tennis. I belong to various women’s groups, and love singing in local choirs. I joined Inner Wheel to meet and engage with others, to make new friends and broaden my knowledge and experience, whenever possible.



At our February lunch meeting at The Tumbling Weir we started with the pleasurable task of presenting Toni Hiscocks, Community Fund Raiser for Hospiscare, with a cheque for £2000. We raised this amazing amount at our annual quiz for Hospiscare last November. We were then very pleased to welcome our District Chairman Jeannette Dommett. We were interested to learn that Jeannette was born in Sidmouth and attended The Kings School in Ottery eventually becoming head girl. She then spoke very warmly about her involvement with Inner Wheel and her year as our District Chairman.


The new year started with our club meeting up for a pub meal at the Hare and Hounds, Sidbury.  It was lovely to just sit and enjoy a meal and a good old natter.  To celebrate the Inner Wheel Day of Service member Monica Highnam arranged for us to go for morning coffee at the newly built Kings Court Care home in Ottery.  We were very pleased to be joined by four residents, three ladies and one man, for a lovely chat and a cup of tea/ coffee and cake. Whilst there Jill Cobley donated six amazing ‘Fidget Quilts’ that she had made, with all manner of things sewn into them, for the residents suffering from dementia. It was a very satisfying morning.


For our Christmas Dinner meeting President Ann requested that we wear an item of clothing or an accessory which would suggest the name of a cocktail or drink, e.g. Black Velvet, White Lady, Singapore Sling, Black and Tan. Everybody entered into the ‘Spirit’ of the theme and a fun evening was had by all.  

Eight of our ladies attended the District Christmas Lunch at the Tiverton Hotel. As a club we had decided to have a ‘Pick a Present’ for our table top sale. We all provided 5 pressy’s each , all wrapped in blue and gold paper and tied with matching ribbons. We were very pleased as they all went and we were able to give the Ottery Food Bank a goodly sum.  Through the month we helped Rotary with their annual Santa Fun Run, their Charity collections at various supermarkets around the area and their Santa Sleigh. Then a few days before Christmas we donned our Santa hats to serve mince pies and warmed mulled wine at the Royal British Legion Club in West Hill for Rotary’s Christmas Carols singalong, beautifully accompanied by the Ottery Silver Band, they always get everyone singing and is a wonderful start to Christmas.


We were very pleased to host the International Zone Rally on 6th November at Aylesbeare Village Hall. All hands on deck as we swung into action, baking scones, cakes and biscuits for the event.  On the day president Ann Jones welcomed District Chairman Jeannette Dommett, District International Service Chairman Margaret Cork and Association International Service Committee Chairman Shammim Govani, as well as over 50 members from most clubs in Devon.

Shammim gave us a brief talk about her projects for the year. Medical aid films and the Butterfly Tree have been chosen as they are working together to prevent malaria. She then showed a short presentation and films showing the work of the two organisations. Margery Cork then presented her with a cheque with the money raised through the sale of pens.

Our main speaker was Hugh Scudder of Christian Response to Eastern Europe, who gave an illustrated presentation of the work of the charity working in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe. We know that many IW clubs, us included, have supported Hugh  and the charity over the years and it was heartening to see how much it has achieved and the dedication shown.

Then on 15th November we held our annual Quiz, in aid of Hospiscare, at West Hill Village Hall. Happily it is always a sell out with about 180 people attending.  Jill Cobley and her Kitchen Angels prepare a Ploughman’s Supper and Rotary run the bar. We also have a Grand Raffle, efficiently organised by Monica Highnam and her band of sellers. Members get together in twos and threes to provide really good prizes. We always make a lot of money on the raffle.  We have been running the quiz for over 18 years.


Before our September meeting at the Tumbling Weir started, president Ann requested a few moments silence to remember Yvonne Guy, a well liked and respected member of our club who had very sadly passed away in August. She will be remembered with fondness.

Following a very nice meal we discussed and made plans for our hosting of the International Zone Rally at Aylesbeare Village Hall and our Hospiscare Quiz to be held at West Hill Village Hall, both in November (we like to keep busy).   We have been organizing the quiz for at least the last 18 years.   We hold our evening meetings at the Tumbling Weir Hotel in Ottery which is a perfect venue for us ladies, it also has a bar. The pretty and comfortable function room is laid up just for us with round tables of six or eight. We each take a different shape to match one on the table which is where we are to sit. We find it works well.  So for our October meeting we were once again at the Tumbling Weir enjoying a two course meal and a good old natter and finalising our plans for the International Zone Rally and Hospiscare quiz.

Also in October we continued with our maintenance and replanting of the raised bed at Kings Hospice in Honiton.   It always seems to be a drizzly day when we do this.


With all the wonderful weather we had been enjoying leading up to our August meeting President Ann decided to host an Al Fresco lunch in her garden. We enjoyed a delicious meal with Ann providing ham, baked and smoked salmon and prawns, with an amazing selection of salads brought by members.  It was a lovely afternoon and we all enjoyed a good old natter.

Also during the month we joined other clubs, charities and businesses from in and around Ottery at the ‘Ottery Show Case’ held on the Land of Canaan. It was a wonderful opportunity for  our club to inform people of the aims and objects of Inner Wheel and the various things we get involved in. Also in August we joined Rotary for their meeting ‘Games in the Garden’ at the Tumbling Weir. It’s amazing how a few silly games can cause so much hilarity.

JULY 2019

For her first meeting in July our new President Ann Jones organized a fun evening at the Tumbling Weir Hotel. Following a very nice meal and a small amount of business Ann proceeded with the fun part of the evening called ‘Guess Who’. We had to write down a secret statement about ourselves. Ann then read each one out loud and we had to guess who we thought it referred to. Very few were guessed but what a novel way of finding out a little more about each other as each had to expand on what they had written. There were a lot of laughs and more than a few surprises.

On a lovely warm evening 8 intrepid members, all dressed in pink, joined hundreds of other walkers to complete the ‘Twighlight Walk ‘ for Hospiscare. Our girls finished in good time and enjoyed the fizz and bacon roll at the end.

Photo (L): Ready for action at the Twighlight Walk

We also got involved with Rotary’s Devon Rotarium Cycle Event in aid of ‘Devon Air Ambulance’.  Cakes were baked and sandwiches made for the three pit stops along the route which took in the roads of East and Mid Devon. We also helped at the reception point and at the pit stops.  

Photo (R): Jan Mullen and Anne Blackler providing refreshments at one of the pit stops at Rotary’s cycle event.

Also during this month we have continued to help ‘Ottery in Bloom’ with the watering of planters outside the Heritage Museum and by the Monument. Helping to keep Ottery looking blooming lovely. Also the raised flower bed outside Kings Hospice in Honiton is looking very colourful with the bedding plants we planted during the spring.

JUNE 2019

Our AGM in June was held at the Tumbling Weir Hotel in Ottery and following an enjoyable meal President Anne Blackler lit the blue candle and went on to remind us of the various events we had enjoyed during her year. These included a visit to Coleton Fishacre and its beautiful gardens, a taster bowls session at the Isca Centre in Exeter and Pizza and Panto at the Northcott Theatre.

We joined Rotary for an evening of skittles and enjoyed a musical quiz evening plus dinner with our partners and friends at the Tumbling Weir.   We had enjoyed several very interesting speakers and hosted an Interclub where we had a talk from John Gingell a retired Master Chocolatier. His samples of chocolate were delicious. She also said how much she had enjoyed being part of the happy band of walkers for the Hospiscare Twilight Walk and the singalong at the Memory Cafe.

Our annual team quiz in aid of Hospiscare had been a huge success again and the help we had given to Rotary at their various charity events had been greatly appreciated.  She concluded by saying how much she had enjoyed the fun and friendship during her year and lit the yellow candle of friendship before handing over the Chain of Office to incoming Chairman Ann Jones wishing her an enjoyable year.